Wallace Burns Down Clemente Bridge On Way Out of Pittsburgh: Insults City, Former Teammates
By Jim Conroy
I really haven’t written directly about the loss of Mike Wallace this off season except that he was one of several key productive players that the Steelers lost. Even though I felt he was a key player I was not upset in the least that the Steelers lost him. Why would I, a die hard Steelers fan who may not ever get over the loss of James Harrison, not care at all about losing the 4th year wide receiver who is considered the fastest and most dangerous deep threat in the league? Also I know that many (and maybe closer to most) Steelers fans, feel the same way. Does that really make any sense? Something is wrong.
Steelers Nation Unusually Quiet
Usually the Steelers fans are up in arms over such a loss in talent but in Wallace’s case, most are not. I personally don’t know of one Steelers fan who is. The Brown fans I know (where I live it is either Browns or Steelers) don’t even use the loss of Wallace in their annual and futile arguments that the Steelers won’t be as good as the Browns this year. In the Steelers fan blogs or Pittsburgh media I don’t recall reading one column protesting the loss of Wallace. Why?
The Rest Of The NFL Will Soon Discover Mike Wallace Really Is The Cliche: One Trick Pony
With Wallace being the prize catch of the 2013 off season in free agency (5 year $60 million dollar contract) the NFL spotlight will be magnified on Wallace this upcoming season. It may take a while but eventually it will be clear to the Dolphins fans and the rest of the NFL why the Steelers and their fans are not upset over losing Wallace. The NFL and its followers are now just starting to see and hear the beginnings of what the Steelers already know: Mike Wallace isn’t as good a receiver as the rest of the league thinks. Mike Wallace is a cancer, a malcontent with a bad attitude.
Mike Wallace A Leader In Miami?
In his second year in Pittsburgh he became the leader of the self titled “Young Money Crew” which included fellow wide receivers Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown. According to USA Today’s Gary Michones, Wallace borrowed the name from Lil Wayne’s rap group who like Wallace is from New Orleans:
"“That’s my dawg,” says Wallace. “Yeah, we got a lot of money. We’re Young Money (too).”"
Within the “Young Money Crew” Wallace’s self proclaimed nickname is “Fast Money.” It appears that what drives Mike Wallace is money. How impressive.
In the last month since Wallace’s arrival in Miami he has offended many with his comments on different topics. Apparently since signing this years largest off season free agent contract Wallace seems to be feeling a sense of importance and that his opinion somehow now matters. In the aftermath of current NBA player Jason Collins recent admission that Collins was gay, Mike Wallace went to Twitter and stated:
"“All these beautiful women in the world and guys wanna mess with other guys SMH (shakin’ my head) …”"
Or as recently reported by Adam H. Beasley of the Miami Herald, Wallace said he didn’t feel at home in Pittsburgh:
"“In Pittsburgh, I knew I was [in] a six-month lease every time, a furnished apartment, I’d just bring my bag and be ready to go. Down here, I have to buy me a house, get settled in.”"
Add in other comments by Wallace that Ryan Tannehill could be as good as Ben Roethlisberger and that Tannehill has a stronger arm than Roethlisberger. Then consider this quote Wallace told the Miami Herald about the Dolphins and not so subtly about the Steelers:
"“Everybody has a college mentality around here,”. “It’s a lot different than where I came from. Everybody’s hungry. Everybody wants to get better, get to where we need to be — that’s a winning record.”"
Wallace Maybe Not One Trick Pony After-all, Displays Another Talent: Burning Bridges
So what Wallace meant in his backhanded not so clever comments were: “Fast Money” didn’t like the city of Pittsburgh. “Fast Money” only stayed in Pittsburgh the 6 months he had to. “Fast Money” got out of town as soon as it was not required for “Fast Money” to be there. “Fast Money” never had any intention of re-signing or settling in Pittsburgh. “Fast Money” thinks the Steelers are old, have no enthusiasm or spirit. “Fast Money” thinks his former teammates are satisfied, not hungry and don’t have the desire to get better. “Fast Money” thinks Tannehill can be as good as Roethlisberger. “Fast Money” thinks Tannehill has a stronger arm than Roethlisberger.
Despite His Speed Wallace Hasn’t Created Any Room To Run His Mouth
The Steelers instituted a new offense before the 2012 season. Wallace who considered himself the best receiver on the team chose to hold out until the last week of the pre-season before signing his one year restricted tender. A tender Wallace could have signed at any time in the off season and reported to camp with his teammates to learn the new system. Selfish. Is that something a college football player say at Ole Miss would have done? Or was it pouting because the Steelers Gave Antonio Brown a new contract and not him? The result of his protest caused Wallace to take months to catch up as he struggled with consistency from his prolonged holdout.
Steelers fans got sick of watching Wallace, who was no longer the Steelers top receiving target, pout and brood on the sidelines in 2012. Sick of his poor body language. It was obvious that he was not happy with his role in the offense but “Fast Money” was the one who chose to report at the last minute. Last year Steelers fans didn’t need to hear what they already knew but midway through the 2012 season “Fast Money” dropped another bomb (pun intended) to the Pittsburgh Tribune review:
"“I’ve never been a guy who dropped balls or just lose focus, the first 3 years I was always involved, so you just warmed up in games, and were just into it. But when you don’t get the ball for two and a half quarters, you lose focus. But that’s the type of offense this is. We’re spreading it around, so you’re not going to get as many targets. When you get them, you have to make the best of them.”"
According to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette former Steelers great Joe Greene allegedly retired from his front-office position with the Steelers this off-season because he felt that there is:
"“a different attitude with the players” in the current era and that it would “be unfair for [him] to call someone out, not knowing who that person is,” but added, that when he was on the team as a player, “locker room information and knowledge didn’t get outside the locker room.”"
Most took this as Greene talking about “Fast Money”. The same week as Greene retired, Steelers current player Ryan Clark on ESPN’s First Take said:
"“The culture we have now is about money. The Steelers were a team that kept that away from the organization as long as possible.”"
That is until they drafted the leader of the “Young Money Crew”. Clark said the new draft picks come in already thinking about money. However Clark now see’s a change in attitude in the Steelers locker room. It just so happens that “Fast Money” is no longer there. How coincidental. Does anyone think Clark wasn’t talking about Wallace?
Does Miami Know What They Are Getting For $12 Million A Year?
Salary Cap reasons was just one of many reasons the Steelers had in not re-signing Wallace. Besides all of the money talk, selfishness, brooding and complaining is the actual play of Wallace. Sure he is the fastest receiver in the league and teams will often put up with diva player who produces. But the Steelers didn’t and it is widely accepted in league circles they let Wallace walk for salary cap purposes. Not so “fast”. If the Steelers felt that strongly about Wallace they would have made more of an effort to get him signed. So why didn’t they?
The Steelers didn’t want to pay big money to a receiver who makes most of his catches against his body, on his hip or shoulders. Why would the Steelers want to pay big money to a receiver who the next time he goes up in the air and out fights a defensive back for a reception will be the first time? Why would they want to pay big money to a receiver who the next time turns into a defender to break up an interception when the defensive back gets the position on him will be the first time? Why would they want to pay big money to a receiver who the next time he chases down and tackles a defensive back after an interception will be the first time? Why would they want to pay big money to a receiver who the next time he goes high over the middle to make a catch while taking a big hit, will be the first time? Why would they want to pay big money to a receiver who the next time he dives for a pass will be the first time?
It is too bad Wallace (right) didn’t take in all of what Hines Ward (left) had to offer. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports
Apparently what Hines Ward had to offer to Wallace as a mentor didn’t take with “Fast Money” after Ward retired. Wallace appears to have wasted the 3 years he had with one of the greatest and most complete receivers ever. However what the Steelers and their fans did learn from Mike Wallace’s 4 years with the Steelers is that he is fast and he wants money. “Fast Money” the former leader of the “Young Money Crew” is now in Miami ready to unpack his duffel bag, spend some money and put down some roots.
It is too bad “Fast Money” didn’t take all of what Pittsburgh had to offer: One of the NFL’s best organizations year in and year out. One of the most competitive teams with some of the league’s best players including one of the league’s best quarterbacks. The league’s best fan base in one of the best cities with hard working grounded people who appreciate the same from their athletes. Wallace could of been a great one. Instead he chose to take the money and run. Fast.